Christmas in Devon 2020 – brilliant festive family events
The Christmas count down is on! I may be biased but Christmas in Devon is wonderful and I can’t wait for it to arrive again. So, in preparation for this festive season, I’ve pulled together what I think is a pretty comprehensive guide to what’s on in Devon in December 2020. It includes Christmas events at attractions, festive shows and where to meet Santa in Devon.
UPDATE: events in 2020 will be subject to change. Always check with organisers and venues before you travel and adhere to the latest government guidelines.
Christmas in Devon: the ultimate guide for families
Grab your Santa hats and prepare your waistline for mince pies aplenty as Devon gets set for Christmas.
Below you’ll discover everything there is currently to know about where to meet Santa, Devon Christmas markets, shows, winter trails, Santa steam trains in Devon, illuminations, what’s on at National Trust houses and oodles of festive cheer.
You might also like to take some Christmas present inspiration from my Devon gift guide.
Here’s what Christmas in Devon looks like in 2020 so far…
Christmas shows and pantomimes in Devon
Zippos Circus at Central Park, Plymouth
Britain’s Favourite Circus is visiting Plymouth this Christmas and will be wowing audiences throughout the festive season. Zippos presents a fast-moving festive spectacle like no other as astonishing acrobats and aerialists and comics come together for this colourful Christmas production.
Zippos Circus, Central Park, Plymouth, 17 December 2020 to 10 January 2021. Book online.
Robinson Crusoe at The Theatre Royal Plymouth
Get ready for a socially distanced pantomime like never before, in a swashbuckling adventure full of buried treasure, dangerous buccaneers and a magical journey across the ocean in an all-new production of Robinson Crusoe, created especially for Christmas 2020!
Tickets go on sale to members from 13 November 2020 and to the general public from 18 November 2020.
Robinson Crusoe, The Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 12 December 2020 to 3 January 2021.
The Gingerbread Man at The Theatre Royal Plymouth
Stuff and Nonsense apply their usual brilliance with a mix of puppetry, live-action, great music, humour, and a stunning staging of this well-loved classic tale.
This show is suitable for children aged three and up.
The Gingerbread Man, The Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 8 December 2020 to 9 January 2020.
Santa’s Christmas Cracker at Queens Theatre Barnstaple
Join Father Christmas and friends for a fun, festive, musical and socially-distanced adventure to discover the wonder of Christmas!
Santa’s Christmas Cracker is a 45 minute, interactive family show, particularly suitable for 2-7 year olds. Afterward, the adventure continues as, with social distancing, gloves, and a mask for Father Christmas, each child gets to meet him and receive a specially wrapped present – it’s the most Christmassy Christmas show ever, HO-HO-HO!
Santa’s Christmas Cracker, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, 24 December 2020. Book online.
Wizard of Oz at Exeter Corn Exchange
A pantomime will be going ahead in Exeter this Christmas. The Wizard of Oz has been adapted for a socially distanced and COVID safe performance.
Exeter’s favourite double-act, Matt Finegan and Daniel Page, will return as Glinda and the Wicked Witch, alongside another top-quality West End professional cast!
Wizard of Oz, Exeter Corn Exchange, 19 December 2020 to 3 January 2021. Book online.
Buttons at The Palace Theatre
Sheffield comedian Tom Binns aka Hospital DJ Ivan Brackenbury will put on ‘Buttons – the one-man pantomime’.
It turns out Buttons has got a bit complacent of late and has lost the magic of Panto but with the help of his Fairy God Mentor, played by Bernie Clifton, he rediscovers the magic just in time for a happy ending.
This one hour show will be performed three times on New Years Eve.
Buttons, Palace Theatre, Paignton, 31 December 2020. Book online.
Aladdin at Babbacombe Theatre, Matthews Hall and The Palace Theatre
Fasten your seat belts for a COVID safe magical carpet ride to Old Peking to meet Aladdin and his hard working mother and local laundress, Widow Twankey.
Follow Aladdin on his quest to find a magic lamp for the Evil Sorcerer Abanazar, who has promised Aladdin a treasure trove of wealth.
This touring show will be coming to Babbacombe Theatre, Matthews Hall in Topsham and the Palace Theatre in Paignton.
- Aladdin, Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay, 19 December 2020 – SOLD OUT.
- Aladdin, Matthews Hall, Topsham, 22 to 23 December 2020.
- Aladdin, Palace Theatre, Paignton, 9 to 10 January 2021.
Festive Drive-in Cinema at Westpoint, Exeter
See The Grinch, Elf, Love Actually, Home Alone and The Polar Express from the comfort of your own car.
Festive Drive-in Cinema, Westpoint, Exeter, 18 to 19 December 2020. Book online.
Snow Queen family workshops with Above Bounds
Would you like to help Above Bounds in Plymouth create their next show and learn storytelling, craft and drama skills along the way? Sadly the usual in person workshops will not be happening this December but Above Bounds invites you to join them for workshops online.
Over the course of five creative workshops, you will rewrite, retell and redesign one of Hans Christian Anderson’s most loved tales, The Snow Queen. This online workshop is perfect for children aged five and over. Book an individual session or attend all five.
Content devised in the sessions will help Above Bounds to create the tale into a theatre show in 2021.
Snow Queen workshops, online, 12 December 2020 to 10 January 2021. Book online.
Quest for the Ice Dragon, Plymouth – UPDATE: limited tickets remaining
Stiltskin Soapbox Children’s Theatre presents the Quest for the Ice Dragon this winter. Join the theatre for an immersive promenade performance in Devonport Park and choose from either a toddler-friendly event during the day or a version for the whole family in the evening.
Stiltskin Soapbox Children’s Theatre, various dates from 12 to 24 December 2020. Book online.
Horrible Christmas at Exeter Racecourse – UPDATE: SOLD OUT
Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories present a socially-distanced pantomime, Horrible Christmas at Exeter Racecourse. The show is touring nationally and will be on at Exeter for one day only.
Horrible Christmas, Exeter Racecourse, 18 December 2020. Book online.
Where to meet Santa in Devon 2020
If Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to Santa’s grotto, then here’s where to find Father Christmas in Devon in 2020. Also see the Christmas events at Devon attractions below. Santa is bound to make an appearance!
Sail with Santa and Stuart Line Cruises – UPDATE: SOLD OUT
Meet Santa on the River Exe this Christmas by hopping onboard a Stuart Line Cruises. There will be magic and balloon modelling at guests’ tables as well as all the usual festive fun on this very special grotto ride. For adults there will be commentary about the river, mulled wine and mince pies.
Sail with Santa, Exmouth, selected dates between 5 December and 23 December 2020. Book online.
Santa’s Grotto at Bow Garden Centre – UPDATE: SOLD OUT
Santa’s Grotto has been reworked in 2020 to make it a socially distanced yet magical experience at Bow Garden Centre. Not only will children be able to meet Father Christmas, there will also be a craft activity, treasure trails and a gift to take away. Booking in advance is essential.
Visit Santa, Bow Garden Centre, Crediton, every weekend from 28 November to 24 December 2020.
Christmas events at Devon attractions
Devon’s attractions put on a great show at Christmas with special events and displays during the festive season. Here’s what’s on in Devon this December:
Festive weekends at The Milky Way Adventure Park
The Milky Way and its family theme park attractions will be open for festive visits in December. Hop on the specially adapted train at the garland festooned station and help the team round up the cheeky elves who have escaped all over the park.
Full details bout what’s on are available on this North Devon attraction’s website.
The Milky Way Adventure Park, Bideford, selected dates from 5 to 13 December 2020. Tickets must be booked in advance.
Exe-was Drive-through Wonderland at Westpoint
Get in the festive spirit by visiting the UK’s first drive-through wonderland featuring Christmas and motoring magic. There will be reindeer and supercars across six elaborate sets, all viewable from the safety of your car.
The cost is £26.50 per car (up to six people). Even better – all profits are going to an amazing local charity: the Exeter Homeless Partnership Trust.
Exe-has Drive-through Wonderland, Westpoint, Exeter, 17 to 20 December 2020. Bookings must be made in advance online.
Crealy festive weekends
Crealy Adventure Park will be decked with Christmas decorations and there will be a new Christmas Parade happening three times a day. Join Santa as he takes some time away from his toy shop and parades with his cheeky elves and special guests Buddy and Blossom.
Buy your tickets before 2 December 2020 there’s a special deal of £12 per person.
Christmas at Crealy, Exeter, weekends from 5 December 2020 to 3 January 2021. Book online.
Santa’s snow globe at Bicton Park Gardens – UPDATE: SOLD OUT
Have a socially distanced meeting with Santa at Bicton Park this December. Santa will be sat in his snow globe from where he will chat with young visitors. Each child will receive a present.
Bookings are open to members only. It is possible to upgrade your day ticket to an annual membership for £9 per person. Visiting Santa costs £14.95 per child.
Bicton Park Gardens, Budleigh Salterton, 5 to 20 December 2020. Bookings must be made in advance online.
Fireworks and mince pies at The Big Sheep
The Big Sheep sadly had to cancel it’s plans for Bonfire Night so instead there with be fireworks at its Christmas events in December.
People with tickets for its fireworks displays in November will have priority access to the Christmas events where there will be mince pies, mulled wine and Santa alongside plenty of big bangs.
Christmas Nativity at Pennywell Farm
There will be a nativity at Pennywell Farm in 2020. Enter the North Pole, see a socially distanced nativity, visit the elves sweet shop and wander through the enchanted forest to Meet Santa himself.
Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh, selected dates from 4 to 24 December 2020. Book online.
Light trail and grotto at Powderham Castle
Powderham Castle will be hosting a spectacular light trail and Santa’s Grotto this Christmas. The trail will be open be open daily from 4pm and allow visitors to explore the castle grounds and buildings like never before.
Each weekend you can meet Father Christmas and his elves in the Christmas Barn which will be filled with presents for everyone on Santa’s nice list. Navigate through the maze to find the Christmas Tree and North Pole Post Box.
Light trail and grotto, Powderham Castle, near Exeter, 29 November to 31 December 2020.
Christmas at Babbacombe Model Village
The celebrations will be scaled back in 2020 but there will be some miniature Christmas themed scenes at the village to add a fun seasonal twist.
Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, 2 December 2020 to 3 January 2021. Parking charges apply.
Santa’s post box and Christmas goodie bags at The House of Marbles
Father Christmas is sad that he can’t come to The House of Marbles for his usual Santa’s Grotto this Christmas but he is leaving a special post box here for children to write to him. Every child who posts a letter will be able to pick up a free goodie bag.
The post box will arrive and be ready for children’s letter to Santa from 1 November to 24 December 2020. The House of Marbles is also a top place to pic up some unique Christmas gifts!
House of Marbles, Bovey Tracey, 2 December to 24 December 2020.
Christmas nosh at Powderham Castle
Take your family dining in a castle this Christmas. A pop-up Christmas restaurant is coming to Powderham Castle at the end of November with socially distanced tables set up in the music room and library.
There is an option of a two course Christmas Lunch, Afternoon Tea and three course Christmas Dinner all served by Posh Nosh. Prices start at £20 with a deposit of £10 per person.
Find out more about the menus and book on the website.
Pop-up Christmas Restaurant, Powderham Castle, selected dates from 3 to 20 December 2020.
Plymouth’s Polar Bear Trail
The Polar Bear Trail returns to Plymouth in the run up to Christmas. Locate the bears across the waterfront from Ocean Studios at Royal William Yard to businesses across the Barbican. You can find the Polar Bear Trail on the Plymouth Trails App.
Every child that completes the trail will get a badge and some sweets at the final location.
Polar Bear Trail, Plymouth, 5 to 23 December 2020.
Christmas and Santa trains in Devon
Sadly almost every Christmas train and Polar Express in Devon has been cancelled in 2020. Here’s the Christmas trains coming to Devon at Christmas in 2020:
Christmas train rides, Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
There’s no Santa Train this year but visitors to Lynton and Barnstaple Railway can have a ride on in a carriage decked out for Christmas with a mince pie and hot drink.
Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, 19, 20 and 22 to 24 December 2020. No need to book.
Fireworks and Illuminations in Devon
Light up your winter days in Devon with a visit to these festive illuminations:
Rosemoor Gardens Glow Illuminations
RHS Garden Rosemoor’s Glow allows visitors to will follow a route around the garden that has extended to the lake in 2020. The lights, starting from the Welcome Building, illuminate the Winter Garden, which leads to the Cool Garden then into the Stream Field and down to the lake area, along with new areas to surprise our regular visitors.
RHS Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington, 19 November 2020 to 2 January 2021. Book online.
Firework party at The Big Sheep
The Big Sheep has announced that its Bonfire Night fireworks will now take place in December when the displays will be given a festive feel.
Keep an eye on The Big Sheep website for information.
Drive in Fireworks at Westpoint – UPDATE: SOLD OUT
Devon’s first ever drive-in firework display is coming to Westpoint Exeter on Saturday 5 December 2020. This event was postponed from November so tickets already sold have been rolled forward.
Buy a ticket for your car, park up in your own socially distanced parking space, and enjoy what will be one the biggest and best firework displays in Devon. Hot food and drink will be available from a range of vendors.
Tickets cost £35 per car and must be purchased before the event.
Drive in Fireworks, Westpoint Exeter, 5 December 2020.
What’s on at National Trust properties in Devon this Christmas
Peter Rabbit winter adventure trail
The National Trust gardens at Coleton Fishacre, Greenway and Saltram in South Devon as well as Knightshayes in Mid-Devon will host a Peter Rabbit themed trail this winter.
In the trail participants are invited to join Peter as he helps his friends Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, Benjamin Bunny and Squirrel Nutkin.
The price of the trail will be £2 per child. Check each venue’s website for open days and to book a timed entry slot.
Don’t forget to also check my post on things to do in Devon this Winter.
Devon Christmas markets and fairs
Devonshire County Christmas Market 2020
A socially safe outdoor Christmas market will be taking place at Westpoint in Exeter.
This event will be filled with a multitude of traders, food and drink, festive entertainment and music, plus a fairground for the big and little children! There’ll be lots more surprises and a visit from the guy in the red suit as well. Tickets must be booked in advance.
Devonshire County Christmas Market, Westpoint, 11 to 13 December 2020.
Where to buy a Christmas tree in Devon
If Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a real tree there’s good news in 2020. Many Christmas tree farms in Devon will be open. Booking may be necessary so check each farm or centre’s website before you go.
Here’s where to buy a Christmas tree in Devon:
- Cotley Farm Christmas trees, near Ottery St Mary
- Connet Farm, Honiton
- Plants Galore, Plymouth
- Dartmoor Christmas Trees, Haldon
- Marldon Christmas Tree Farm, Marldon
- Stacey’s Christmas Tree Farm, Holsworthy
- John Cockram Christmas Trees, Chulmleigh Hill
- John Cockram Christmas Trees, Horwood.
Phew, what a lot there is going on this Christmas in Devon, even in 2020! What takes your fancy? I’m sure there’s events I’ve missed so please do get in touch if you think something should be added.
Thinking ahead to 2021? Here’s my recommended things to do in Devon in January.
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